Every day there is a new invention in the tech world. While most fail to bring relevance to our everyday life, some completely disrupt the way we live and work. One of such disruptive technology is cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the use of the internet or private networks to access, share, and deliver computing resources. In simple terms, cloud computing is an alternative to a physical form of storage.
Most of us are well acquainted with the storage of our photos, videos, documents, and other kinds of files in a physical form. We use the storage space within our mobile phone, DVDs, pen drive, personal computer, and other hardware. Whereas, in cloud computing, the files are stored ‘in the cloud’ or on the internet. The files are managed on your behalf by cloud computing companies somewhere remote.
How Cloud Computing Works
By simply signing up for a cloud computing service with any of the service providers you can get access to the service. The service can be accessed using a computer or a smartphone over a browser or an app. The device needs to have access to the internet.
There are many cloud services providers around the globe. Some of them are Amazon, Google, Rackspace, Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP.
The client can use the space provided by the service provider to store any kind of data. There is a wide range of storage sizes and services in cloud computing to choose from. For instance, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)—one of the leaders in enterprise cloud storage—charges a monthly fee per GB of storage used plus a fee based on the amount of data transferred that month. This service can be used alone or in conjunction with Amazon’s cloud computing service, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).
The other end of the cloud computing system, the cloud computing company, is comprised of computer networks, servers, databases (storage) which store all your files and information. There is a central server that monitors this system to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Why Use Cloud Computing in Business
The cost of 1 TB external hard drive is $44.99. Whereas, Google Drive, Google’s cloud computing service, currently offers 1 TB for $9.99 which will be upgraded to 2 TB at no extra cost. Cloud computing saves a great deal of money with external hard-drive costing 4.5 times more than cloud computing currently.
Cloud computing is cost-saving also in terms of technical issues. The service provider of cloud computing looks after all IT issues related to cloud storage for you which is unlike external hard drive where the company has to deploy an entire IT department to look after such issues. You will no longer need to pay wages to IT experts. The IT issues are overseen by the vendor company themselves.
Access from Anywhere
Cloud software is delivered on-demand via the web to wherever the user is at the moment, provided that he or she has an internet connection. The advantage can be felt when one is in urgent need of any file for an important work but is not inside the office. Even an employee working in a different time zone will have access to team documents.
There is no need to carry bulky hard drives everywhere to get access to work-related files. Files can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of cloud computing is the ability to share files with work colleagues. All files are collectively owned in the cloud space. Any edits done are known to everyone, hence everyone in the team stays up-to-date.
Your team can share a wide range of easy and creative tools to continue working in a virtual space.
For example, Google Drive provides access to Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts Chat, Hangouts Meet, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and many more which are manageable and secured.
Cloud computing makes it easy to work around the clock and to promote work from home culture.
With an internet connection, you can get access to the required resources within a few minutes. The service provider has a network of computers. You may be able to take advantage of the network’s combined processing power to speed up operations.
Back-up and Recovery
Cloud storage is not prone to tangible damage to your files. Even when your laptop, mobile, and PC is damaged, your data remains safe and accessible in the cloud.
Cloud-based services are quick to recover your data. Cloud computing companies have multiple back-ups of your data. Cloud computing is a much safer option than external hardware storage in terms of data recovery. Cloud computing saves you from data loss, which can be a nightmare for any company.
Data is a powerful resource. Companies need to be on their toes to protect their data from any kind of breach. Cloud computing comes with a level of security for your data.
As mentioned in Salesforce, a cloud host’s full-time job is to carefully monitor security, which is significantly more efficient than a conventional in-house system, where an organization must decide its efforts between a myriad of IT Concerns, with security being one of them.
RapidScale claims that 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements.
Concentration on Core Competency
Monitoring security of data, paying for storage space for hardware, appointing an IT technician are few of added activities to business when using a traditional form of storage. This also comes up with an opportunity cost for the company.
Cloud services provider takes all these burdens off your shoulder while have to pay very little in comparison to the traditional form. This way your business can save cost, time, space, and valuable efforts and divert the resources as well as focus on the core competency of the business. This ensures efficiency and more resources for further investment.
Employees can choose to work from anywhere with shared files in cloud computing. For example, employees can work from their home, from holidays or any leisure time.
Cloud computing services such as cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can bring a competitive edge to your company. Cloud CRM stores all your customer data in the cloud and any employee can have access to the data.
So, when an employee comes in contact with customers of the company, he or she can provide personalized information or customized problem solving to the customer. This ensures customer retention as well as brand building. It makes you a mindful company in the eyes of customers.
Privacy and Security Concerns with Cloud Computing
Privacy and security concerns are the two most prominent concerns with cloud computing.
Cloud computing companies do everything that they can to secure your data. But the web is not free from hackers and stakeholders with ill-intentions. So, you need to protect yourself.
Johnathan Strickland recommends the following measures:
Have authentication techniques by:
- Usernames and difficult passwords
- Don’t reuse or share passwords
- Use backup files even on a different cloud servers or hard drive
There are also authorization practices where you list the people who are authorized to access certain information stored on a cloud system.
Gartner, an analyst firm, advises customers to raise seven specific security issues with vendors before selecting a vendor.
- Privileged User Access: It is important to know as much as you can about the people who manage your data. Ask providers to supply specific information on the hiring and oversight of privileged administrators, and the controls over their access.
- Regulatory Compliance: Cloud computing providers who refuse to undergo security certifications are signaling that customers can only use them for the most trivial function according to Gartner.
- Data Location: When you use the cloud, the data is stored somewhere remote you don’t know. Ask providers if they will commit to storing and processing data in a specific jurisdiction and whether they will make a contractual commitment to obey local privacy requirements on behalf of their customers.
- Data Segregation: Your data in the cloud is in a shared environment alongside other customers of service providers. Gartner advises to find out what is done to segregate data at rest.
- Recovery: Ask your provider if it can do a complete restoration, and how long it will take. “Any offering that does not replicate the data and application across multiple sites is vulnerable to a total failure,” says Gartner.
- Investigative Support: According to Gartner, “Cloud services are especially difficult to investigate because logging and data for multiple customers may be co-located and may also be spread across an ever-changing set of hosts and data centers. If you cannot get a contractual commitment to support specific forms of investigation, along with evidence that the vendor has already successfully supported such activities, then your only safe assumption is that investigation and discovery requests will be impossible.”
- Long-term Viability: “Ask potential providers how you would get your data back and if it would be in a format that you could import into a replacement application,” Gartner says.